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J Virol. 2013 Jun;87(11):6406-14. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00072-13. Epub 2013 Mar 27.

Differential recognition of Old World and New World arenavirus envelope glycoproteins by subtilisin kexin isozyme 1 (SKI-1)/site 1 protease (S1P).

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Institute of Microbiology, University Hospital Center and University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.


The arenaviruses are an important family of emerging viruses that includes several causative agents of severe hemorrhagic fevers in humans that represent serious public health problems. A crucial step of the arenavirus life cycle is maturation of the envelope glycoprotein precursor (GPC) by the cellular subtilisin kexin isozyme 1 (SKI-1)/site 1 protease (S1P). Comparison of the currently known sequences of arenavirus GPCs revealed the presence of a highly conserved aromatic residue at position P7 relative to the SKI-1/S1P cleavage side in Old World and clade C New World arenaviruses but not in New World viruses of clades A and B or cellular substrates of SKI-1/S1P. Using a combination of molecular modeling and structure-function analysis, we found that residue Y285 of SKI-1/S1P, distal from the catalytic triad, is implicated in the molecular recognition of the aromatic "signature residue" at P7 in the GPC of Old World Lassa virus. Using a quantitative biochemical approach, we show that Y285 of SKI-1/S1P is crucial for the efficient processing of peptides derived from Old World and clade C New World arenavirus GPCs but not of those from clade A and B New World arenavirus GPCs. The data suggest that during coevolution with their mammalian hosts, GPCs of Old World and clade C New World viruses expanded the molecular contacts with SKI-1/S1P beyond the classical four-amino-acid recognition sequences and currently occupy an extended binding pocket.

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